Betty and I have been on the road it seems all winter and the early weeks of spring. So when we returned home to Boise eight days ago, our yard looked a little haggard, as if we needed to spend some serious work time. Pruning and digging and raking and planting all need to be done, now. But I cannot do it all now. So I decided to begin with….with a pair of pruners and a better attitude than what I felt last Thursday when I first looked at all the work. When I whispered to myself, “I am tired, I can’t do all that; I don’t want to do all that.”
So I began with pruners and snipped and pruned, here and there, one bush at a time and now I have made significant progress. Maybe that approach could work for my writing.
I mention my writing because I’ve been hearing from a number of friends and acquaintances about the dearth of personal blogs coming from me. I have often wondered how much those blog pieces I used to regularly pound out meant, if anything, to anyone. But evidently they are read and printed out and shared and maybe even talked about. So I have decided to get back into the habit of writing the Not-So-Regular, Regular Friday Blog.
Writing is a lonesome business and is often done best at five-thirty in the morning before full consciousness kicks in, or the strong coffee, or both, when the breeze that announces first light still rattles the rain gutters.
Sometimes, with me, and probably a lot of other people, the writing comes like a blast of hot water that cannot be dammed. The images tumble out of the unconscious and into the mind so fast they get tangled up and trip all over themselves. When the inspiration overmatches the perspiration, you think you can write forever and write well.
But sometimes the work isn’t like that. Sometimes it’s like punching postholes in limestone. Joint-shivering work, metaphorically speaking. Knuckle-busting; and of course I am being metaphorical but I am a creative writer so metaphor demands to become part of the toil.
When the writing is difficult, like it has been lately, the metaphors seem frayed, as if I have applied them so many times they’ve lost their collective breaths. When that occurs it is difficult, very difficult, for me to get to the desk and compose.
Maybe metaphor exhaustion comes about because all the stories a man has to tell, or stories that are worth telling, are tapped one too many times from what the psychiatrist Carl Jung called humanity’s “collective unconscious.” I am not positive, but I think those archetypes, those collective myths we all are a part of, can get worn out after telling and telling and telling from the mouth and hands of the same man over years of yarning and writing.
Among other tools of yarning, metaphor is one of the ways—one of the shovels—we employ to dig that hole in the brittle ground of imagination…the telling of the quest, the conquest, the resolution of our journeys from the beginning of life until the end.
When tackling metaphors and their expression in the borrowed archetypes, I want to portray in a way no one has ever created. Even though the stories are as old as the species, they need to be expressed in a fresh way. They need to be new. And that means new metaphors.
But first, I need to get a fresh piece of paper—a blank one—and get some words down. Like putting the point of my shovel into the hard clay at my house. Or get the pruners sharpened and oiled. For the first time this year. This new year for story and metaphor.
Thanks to my friends and acquaintances who asked for getting me motivated to blog.